Can you imagine a morning without coffee? Many women can’t, but caffeine can have so many negative effects on your body that I always recommend my patients try to cut back (or cut out entirely) the amount they are consuming. But quitting cold turkey may prompt more uncomfortable symptoms than you want to handle, making it easy to revert to old habits.
Many women may find it easier to detox from caffeine a little at a time; quite often, I recommend a tapering method for my patients. It looks like this: first, have a regular cup of coffee; then for your second serving, have a cup that’s half-regular and half-decaffeinated coffee. Any ratio will work – the caffeine withdrawal process will be easier on your body if you are methodical about it.
Maybe you’ve never tried to cut back on your caffeine consumption, so you’re wondering what these caffeine withdrawal symptoms might look like. They are different for everyone, but can include fatigue, inability to focus, irritability, depression, sluggishness, daytime drowsiness and – the most common of all – headaches. Most who suffer from a ‘caffeine headache’ will report a throbbing, pressure-filled headache.
If you drink caffeine throughout the day, you may want to first consider limiting caffeine to the morning hours. Not only will this reduce the amount you consume overall, but morning intake is less likely to interfere with your normal cortisol pattern – and therefore less likely to interfere with sleep.
A great tip for cutting down on caffeine is to drink a big glass of water, or a cup of herbal tea, before you take in any caffeine. Eat your breakfast as early as possible in the morning, and be sure to include adequate protein. Then, if you still want your usual caffeinated drink, have it! If a second cup is needed, start your taper.
Some people may notice a change in bowel function during this caffeine transition period. But you shouldn’t have to rely on caffeine to get your bowels moving properly. Dietary fiber encourages bowel function, which sometimes slows down during caffeine withdrawal. Fiber promotes good bacterial balance in the digestive tract, so it’s essential to be sure you get enough of this all the time, regardless of caffeine intake.
Because your liver is responsible for breaking caffeine down for elimination from your body, I recommend my patients support their liver with nutritional supplement to help it through this detox process. The supplements I recommend are:
- Vitamin C (which supports adrenal function and helps with withdrawal symptoms)
- Milk Thistle
- Trace Minerals
- Amino Acids
- N-acetyl cysteine
- B Vitamins
You can also help support your liver by eliminating toxins or allergens from your diet. Be sure to eat enough protein. Follow an alkaline diet – this is helpful because it provides antioxidants which help with detoxification.
Many of my patients who are considering removing caffeine from their diet express concerns that they might ‘lose their edge” or not be able to ‘stay alert’ throughout the day. If you are having these same concerns, please remember that our bodies and minds are not designed to be ‘on’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our bodies need rest to rebuild and re-energize. Letting go of a caffeine addiction just might be your key to better health!